Sailing the Internet and Finding a DMCA ‘Safe Harbor’ (Part 1 of 3)

Previously I overviewed the DMCA, and applied a limited discussion to its ramifications and impact on various stakeholders, namely the internet at large, copyright owners, and artists.  As generalized in the overview, the main purpose of Section 512 of the DMCA was the provision of a legal mechanism for service providers (e.g., SP’s, ISP’s, OSP’s, etc.) to rely on in exchange for developing the internet, with the greatest benefit being “monetary relief” stemming from various acts of copyright infringement.  However, this benefit is only garnered by qualified SP’s, and there are a number of ways a provider may fail to receive, or otherwise be deprived of, the protection of the DMCA.  In the discussion that follows, I examine how, or really when, a service provider may neglect to perform certain tasks expeditiously.

Dancing with the DMCA Devil

At its best, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) remains a contentious topic for discussion amongst the talking heads and commentators, as well as those personally involved and affected.  For example, professional photographer Alex Wild’s recent article on ars technical, “How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer,”[1] as well as videos and even grass root websites, are all devoted to the problems with the DMCA.[2]  While the DMCA helped foster growth of the internet, it was also arguably an immeasurable burden-shifting piece of legislation placed involuntarily onto the shoulders of rights holders.